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The Future by Fluid Power

Many advances in technology make our lives easier, but some are just downright cool. Check out a few we think are leading us into the future.

Raytheon xos2A Real World Iron Man

In the Iron Man movie, the hero flew and fought in a robotics suit. The real world version is not as advanced, but the Raytheon exoskeleton robotics suit, the XOS 2, features redesigned servo valves that force more hydraulic fluid through the valves to produce up to 200 kg/cm of force. A tethered version is an estimated five years from deployment; longer still for a free-range version.

HovercraftOne Step Closer to the Jetsons

A 21-year-old Chinese designer has plans for a vehicle called the Volkswagen Aqua that can hover and thereby negotiate all kinds of terrain, including road, sand, ice, snow and water! The design for the invention has been shortlisted in the annual Car Design Awards competition, sponsored in part by Volkswagen. The design calls for four powerful fans in conjunction with airbags to give the vehicle its hover power. The ultra-smooth and futuristic design also includes an expansive panoramic windshield and a hatch entrance from the back.

Dragonfly-droneDragonfly Spy Drone

The Air Force Research Lab has built a “Micro-Aviary” at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio where tiny flying robots are the central focus. The Micro-Aviary will specialize in what the DoD has deemed the next generation of intelligence and military robot capabilities: tiny drones that are largely indistinguishable from insects or birds that can surreptitiously move about undetected, performing surveillance and intelligence gathering missions or even delivering payloads like tracking devices or even weapons.

Power-buoyWaves to Power Sensors

Like most renewable energy sources, ocean waves cannot compete with the low costs of fossil fuels. It’s expensive to get wave-generated electricity ashore and add it to a local grid. But what if wave-energy conversion could be used where it’s generated?

A few weeks ago the U.S. Navy installed a system of what are called PowerBuoys, made by Ocean Power Technology. Each buoy contains hydraulic fluid and a generator. Rather than transmitting that electricity to shore over a submerged fiber-optic line, the juice will power the ocean-based sensors that detect and track vessels. The system is part of the Navy's near-coast anti-terrorism and maritime surveillance program.

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